GUNNAR MLG Phantom Gaming Eyewear Review

Have you ever thought about wearing glasses specifically for gaming? No, neither have I, yet when I was asked to sample a pair of gaming specs from GUNNAR I was intrigued. My main questions were: should I be wearing them? Would it improve my gaming? Could I play for longer without getting dry, tired eyes? So many questions. So with a pair of GUNNAR MLG Phantoms in hand it was time to find out some answers.

“An estimated 125 million Americans suffer from what is now commonly referred to as Digital Eye Fatigue or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), according to the American Optometric Association.” [GUNNAR]

That is a worrying statistic for the digital generation, isn’t it? With most of our daily lives consumed in front of some kind of display, be it a computer monitor at work or school, or at home in front of the TV, gaming or watching the latest TV show, in this digital age we live in it is no surprise how such a statistic can rack-up its numbers. Luckily, should you suffer from such a syndrome during your gaming antics, then GUNNAR has you covered with a number of glasses to put on your face.

Designed by a former Oakley engineer, these glasses aren’t that embarrassing to wear. Even more so if you don’t usually wear glasses yourself. Eight gaming glasses span the available range, with other glasses fulfilling other eye fatigue scenarios such as computer displays, clear glass lenses for design, glasses for outdoor use and prescription varieties.

The MLG Phantoms are constructed in a durable stainless steel design with ‘fastener-free’ hinges. Being branded by the Major League Gaming, MLG logos are branded on each arm of the glasses, which are also thin enough to prevent pressure on your temples when being worn along with a headset. Although these glasses are made of steel, the whole frame has some play in them, bending back on themself without creaking, which also helps to accommodate those with a larger sized head too. The glasses come in a single size, with these MLG Phantoms being stated as medium sized glasses. Overall, the frames feel light and have very little bulk too them, so they feel and look pretty smart and professional, whilst feeling solid enough to take a bit of punishment from the odd rage-quit or two.

What I did find odd was the colour of the lenses used in the GUNNAR gaming range, including these MLG Phantoms. The amber-tinted lenses are said to make images appear clearer, adding contrast and filtering out blue light, and they do, however this yellow-tint in colour will effect how a game’s colour will look. To some, this may be a problem, and sadly I am a member of that club, however general gaming shouldn’t be too effected as much as say viewing a desktop display – where your white screen becomes a yellowish one. But if this is where you’ll be using these glasses the most, then check out the Crystalline collection, with their clear lenses for designers.

The anti-glare lenses also have a slight optical shape to them that will pre-focus the light into your eyes, so that the eyes don’t have to do all the work, and as a result reduce your eye strain. The result is an effect of your view/focus being pushed ever so slightly lower, so that your eyes focus lower, which for me did make my viewing slightly more comfortable.

What I found was the best use for seeing this clarity and focus was to view text. After a long day at work my eyes were feeling pretty tired, that point where text becomes a bit burry on the edges. To my surprise, putting the MLG Phantoms on I was able to focus on the text more clearly, with the lenses adapting my focus whilst reducing glare from the screen I was viewing. Text generally appeared clearer and sharper.

So am I a convert? Will I be reaching out to pickup the gamepad AND these pair or glasses? Probably not, if I am honest. Being a designer myself, seeing colour for what it should be is a very big deal, and seeing my gaming world in a yellow-tint didn’t really appeal to me. Especially when I’ve spent a good hour or so getting colour correctly balanced on my LED TV.

I’d like to see how different the clear lenses would be and if the yellow-tint plays a large factor in reducing screen glare and generally eye fatigue. I don’t buy the makers bullet-point explaining that the lenses are close fitting to creat a micro-climate in front of your eyes to keep them moist and prevent dry eyes. The MLG Phantoms do not sit any closer than any glasses I’ve ever worn, and if they did, my girl-sized eyelashes would be brushing the back of the lenses with every blink anyway. I am sure this is a comparison against wearing no glasses at all.

So in short, if you need to be wearing glasses specially for gaming, you probably need to take more breaks. The enhancements that the MLG Phantoms do provide are there, but it really comes down to the individual as to whether a tinted pair of lenses will really benefit you, or whether the clear Crystalline range of glasses would give you the focus and glare reductions you would need, but without seeing through a yellow mist. If you can try before you buy, I would suggest that you give the GUNNAR Gaming Series a try and see if they serve as much of a purpose than just a few screen breaks now and then to rest those tired gaming eyes.

Anthony Barker

Anthony is the designer, developer and owner of Console Monster. In his spare time, Anthony is a keen gamer who enjoys playing mostly First-Person Shooters and Racing games. When he is not developing games or tweaking this site, Anthony likes to be on the slopes snowboarding or hurtling down off-road tracks on his mountain bike.

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